Features

Simon: Big 12 Musings & Week 2 Predictions

Jeremy Simon is the owner of BlueGoldSports.com covering West Virginia University. He’s also a contributor to USA Today Sports, CFN and Athlon Sports.

Early indications are that Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby possibly should have implemented the conference championship game this season instead of 2017. That may be the only way a Big 12 team sees the College Football Playoff this season.

How did each Big 12 team fare in Week One and what are the expectations for Week Two?

Texas defeats #10 Notre Dame 50-47 (2OT)

True freshman QB Shane Buechele is the real deal. Starting his first collegiate game he went 16/26 for 280 yards and two touchdowns. The kid looked poised in the pocket and his accuracy is scary good. And the “18 wheeler” package well…. Have you ever stood in the middle of the road and stared down an 18 wheeler thinking to yourself, “he’s gonna swerve first?” Yeah probably not, same concept.

Last season the idea of having Swoopes in the backfield as a running threat was great in theory but not always effective. If the way this package was utilized against Notre Dame is any indication of how the Longhorns will use it for the remainder of the season, everyone is in trouble. You know it’s coming, you just can’t stop it.

Week 2: The Longhorns have a tuneup game this week facing UTEP at home on Saturday. This will be one of those games most will not watch because, well, it won’t be interesting. The Longhorns will cover the spread (-28) and probably see themselves in the top 15 going into week three.

Prediction: Texas 55 UTEP 10

West Virginia tops Missouri 26-11

Mountaineer fans should be excited about this victory. West Virginia put up 26 points against a Missouri defense that will hold its own this season. Unfortunately the victory lost a little of its muster being as though seven SEC teams lost this past weekend, first time that has happened since 1992.

Senior QB Skyler Howard looked good going 23/35 for 253 yards but threw no touchdown passes. The backfield tandom of Justin Crawford and Rushel Shell will be fun to watch this season as they combined for 191 yards and two TD’s between the two.

The big story for the Mountaineers is their offensive line which manhandled a Missouri defensive line that many think may be one of the best in the country. Defensively the Mountaineers weren’t challenged and probably won’t be for a couple of weeks. That isn’t to say the Mountaineers didn’t look good on defense. They held Missouri to 462 total yards with 185 of those coming in the fourth quarter with the starters out.

Week 2: The Mountaineers remain home this week to face Youngstown State. Ranked 20th in the FCS standings, the Penguins may put up a little more of a fight against the Mountaineers but it’s doubtful.

Prediction: West Virginia 45 YSU 13

Baylor defeats Northwestern State 55-7

The Bears continue their tradition of picking the easiest opponent they can find and taking them behind the woodshed. Was really nothing to see here all game as the coin toss was probably even a mismatch.

Seth Russell looked okay going 14/20 for 163 yards and four touchdowns. It might have been disappointing that Shock Linwood didn’t go over 100 yards rushing in the game, but 97 yards on just nine carries were good enough obviously.

There was interest in how the Bears would look under new interim head coach Jim Grobe but this game just wasn’t the game to gauge future success.

Week 2: Baylor will see a slight increase in difficulty this week when they face SMU at home – the Bears beat SMU last season in Dallas 56-21. The Mustangs did win their opener against North Texas 34-21 and should be able to put some points on the board against the Bears, but that just won’t be enough.

Prediction: Baylor 45 SMU 20

Oklahoma State defeats Southern Louisiana 61-7

Taking a page out of the Baylor Bears playbook, the Cowboys went with Southern Louisiana as their annual tuneup game. The Cowboys scored 28 in the first quarter and could have taken a knee the rest of the game.

The Cowboys took the second quarter off scoring only three before putting their foot back on the pedal in the third scoring an additional 21. I may be mistaken but it is possible Oklahoma State’s waterboy may have gotten into the stat sheet in this game.

The Cowboys defense did look stout allowing on 203 total offensive yards for the Lions. Just not a whole not to say about this game other than I’m sure Southern Louisiana departed with a nice payday for their troubles.

Week 2: The Cowboys are back home this weekend against a team that gave them all they could handle last season in Central Michigan. CSU is coming off a 49-3 victory over their annual tuneup game against Presbyterian. OSU is a much better team this season than last although they are not getting the respect they deserve quite yet.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 44 Central Michigan 20

Texas Tech defeats Stephen F Austin 69-17

The score doesn’t even depict how badly the Red Raiders beat SFA. The 758 total offensive yards does though. A little concern here is the lack of a running attack for Texas Tech. Of those 758 yards only 125 were on the ground. This leaves me to believe Texas Tech may throw the ball this season, but that’s just a guess.

Patrick Mahomes looked great going 30/43 for 483 yards and four touchdown passes, he was also the Raiders leading rusher with 57 yards on 10 carries. Is it possible Mahomes is that important to this offense that he allots for half of their rushing yards as well?

Texas Tech did run at a clip of 4.5 yards per carry, nothing to be concerned about. Just figured this would be a game where Kingsbury would choose to work on other aspects of their offense.

SFA did pass for 312 yards on the Red Raiders though, something to look for once they get into conference play. Texas Tech’s defense is seeing improvements though, they only allowed 17 points in this game. The lowest point total they allowed last season was 20 against UTEP, baby steps.

Week 2: Texas Tech travels to Arizona State this weekend in what could be another impressive game for Mahomes. Last time a Big 12 school played against the Sun Devils was in the Cactus Bowl last season where Skyler Howard hurt everyone’s feelings with a record passing performance. Why ASU is favored in this game confuses me. I feel Texas Tech has all the tools to simply outscore the Devils. So I’m taking the upset here.

Prediction: Texas Tech 50 Arizona State 47

Kansas pummels Rhode Island 55-6

I had to use the word “pummel” in this title simply because I’ve never been able to do so when describing a Kansas football win. Listen, Rhode Island is not good and I’ve chastised other teams for scheduling weak opponents but the Jayhawks get a pass here.

Kansas put up 570 total yards against Rhode Island and shut them down defensively only allowing 219 total offensive yards. Montell Cozart looked decent and the Jayhawks averaged just under 5 yards per carry on the ground.

About the criticism of the Kansas faithful rushing the field; you’ll hear no complaints from me. The last time Kansas beat a team this badly was in 2009 when they defeated Northern Colorado 49-3. This was also Kansas’ first win since November 8th of 2014 when they beat Iowa State 34-14.

Week 2: The fun is over in Lawrence now, a FBS school is coming. Kansas will face Ohio this weekend at home and what may very well be an entertaining game. You almost have to pull for the Jayhawks now with all the excitement around the program. Here’s another kicker, The Jayhawks are favored by 3. But being as though every team gets 3 for playing at home this game is technically a wash in Vegas.

However, I’ve jumped aboard the Jayhawks football train for at least one more week and I’m going with Kansas over Ohio. Plus I want to see what Kansas fans have as an encore.

Prediction: Kansas 28 Ohio 17

TCU defeats South Dakota State 59-41

Many are questioning how SDSU scored 41 on a ranked FBS school. Well the Jackrabbits are not that bad of a team. Currently ranked 9th on the FCS top 25 they are no slouch. But the 13th ranked team in the country should not give up 41 to an FCS school.

TCU did what they do to everyone though, just outscored their opponent. Kenny Hill looked great in the victory as well as the Frogs rushing attack which yielded 223 total yards on 37 carries (6 yards per attempt).

South Dakota State hung around in this game until late and didn’t look bad offensively. I’m not sure I’m ready to chastise TCU’s defense quite yet. The Jackrabbits will do well within the FCS ranks this season. There were closer FCS vs FBS games this past weekend. But still, you don’t give up 41.

Week 2: TCU welcomes the Razorbacks this weekend to Fort Worth in a Big 12/ SEC showdown. Arkansas squeaked by Louisiana Tech last week 21-20 and no it wasn’t impressive. TCU is favored by only 7.5 in this game with an over/under of only 60. Neither of these numbers make sense to me, okay the over/under does. This may be a much higher scoring game than many anticipate – I still like TCU.

Prediction: TCU 45 Arkansas 37

Kansas State loses to #8 Stanford 26-13

This was a respectable game in every aspect for the Wildcats. They went to a top 10 ranked team who happened to have a Heisman favorite and held them to 26 points. Kansas State actually out-gained the Cardinals 335 to 272. Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey was the different maker in this game rushing for 126 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns. Stanford QB’s were pretty efficient as well going 15/19 for 167 yards.

Wildcats QB Jesse Ertz went only 16/34, but he spread the ball around to eight different receivers. Kansas State’s running game averaged only 2.9 yards per carry., but they were facing the #8 team in the country.

Even with all the problems, the game was close throughout until a 41-yard TD run by McCaffrey sealed the victory for Stanford. Kansas State’s defense held this game in check.

Week 2: Off

Iowa State loses to Northern Iowa 25-20

If you were surprised by this you shouldn’t have been. Northern Iowa is ranked 3rd in the FCS top 25. Iowa State is just not good, yet.

Iowa State’s passing attack did not look bad as Joel Lanning went 18/28 for 256 yards. The junior QB did throw two interceptions in this game, something he will have to get a grip on before getting into Big 12 play, especially considering the Cyclones rushing attack was nonexistent.

Defensively the Cyclones held their own against the pass, it was their run defense that faltered. Northern Iowa racked up 232 rushing yards against Iowa State, most of which coming from dual threat QB Aaron Bailey.

The Cyclones are going to struggle against QB’s who are able to get out of the pocket, Skyler Howard and Tyrone Swoopes immediately come to mind.

Week 2: Iowa State travels to instate rival Iowa where they are 15 point underdogs. Iowa is coming off a 45-21 victory over a Miami (Ohio) team that is not as good as Northern Iowa. Don’t be surprised if Iowa State stays in this game for a while. Lanning should be able to successfully throw the ball against the Hawkeyes much like Miami (Ohio) did. This alone should keep ISU somewhat in the game. Iowa should still win this but don’t expect a blowout.

Prediction Iowa 34 Iowa State 21

Oklahoma loses to Houston 33-23

While this was an upset on paper almost no one saw this as a surprise. Houston is by far the most non-Power 5 school in the nation. Both teams were evenly matched. The game was close at half with Houston leading by only two, 19-17.

The turning point of the game was just odd, well Auburn/Alabama odd. Brandon Wilson’s 100-yard return of a missed OU field goal seemed to knock the wind out of the Sooners. It really wasn’t until late in the 4th did the Sooners have another successful drive and by that time the score was insurmountable.

No one is talking about this game due to so many other upsets this weekend. The Sooners should send Texas a thank you card for taking the heat off them with their upset of Notre Dame. The biggest concern here is that OU was the clear favorite in the Big 12. Many had them in the final four and easily winning the conference. The only reason the Big 12 is not taking more of a media beating is because of Texas, something that can’t be sitting well in Oklahoma.

The Sooners are far from out though as they have a pending matchup against Ohio State in a few weeks. A victory there would make everyone forget about what happened last weekend.

Week 2: Everyone should feel sorry for Louisiana-Monroe. The Sooners are favored by 46.5 and at this point that may be generous. There isn’t much to say about this game other than… well there’s nothing to say.

Prediction Oklahoma 60 Louisiana-Monroe 6

Looking back, only West Virginia and Texas were bright spots in what was otherwise a disappointing weekend in the Big 12. Baylor and Oklahoma State bullying around small schools won’t earn anyone brownie points and TCU giving up 41 to an FCS school isn’t the best look either. Iowa State knocking off Iowa, Texas Tech beating Arizona State, and TCU taking care of Arkansas would all be welcome in Week 2.